Each day that we are surviving the coronavirus pandemic, there have been more cases, a new death toll, new symptoms, and more details coming from the news. This stream of information has brought on fear and anxiety where you experience insomnia, lightheadedness, chest pains, and feeling gloomy. It is important to know what happens to your mind and body when you have absorbed too much of the news during this uncertain time to be aware of when it is time to step away.
Fight or Flight Responses
After reading too many news articles, you may be feeling off, experiencing things like a racing heart or rapid breathing. You also could be having trouble sleeping or vivid nightmares of what you have read. When we are exposed to a stressor, our fight or flight responses turn on, which is how we deal with something we see as a threat.
When people expose themselves to anxiety-inducing news, they are making their brain process a threatening, stressful event on repeat. This can take a major toll on your health over time, if you choose to only expose yourself to the negativity surrounding this uncertain time.
Constantly being exposed to bad news can lead to insomnia, fatigue, and not being able to concentrate. People often developed these same symptoms during recent tragic moments in history, like the 2014 Ebola Crisis, 9/11, and the Boston Marathon bombings. The more gruesome and graphic the pictures are, the more distressed they are.
Other Mental Health Effects of Too Much News
According to the American Psychological Association, people tend to turn to the news to provide self-reassurance during uncertain times. When this information is not communicated well, such as sensationalism or misinformation, anxiety can quickly increase. We tend to go to social media and news sources to feel safe, when it can actually have the opposite effect on our mental health.
Reading too much bad news can seem like we are living in doomsday. Over time, we can develop insomnia, depression, and anxiety. We can also develop physical issues like heart disease, diabetes, early aging, and suicidal thoughts. It is important to listen to what your body is telling you if you are feeling strange. Help is always available when you need it most, even through video chats or online forums.
Why Seeing Bad News Is Worse Than Reading
People tend to have a stronger reaction to the news you watch on television compared to news you read. Witnessing something traumatic can lead to more of an impact compared to just visualizing what you are reading. It is no different than if you were to witness your neighbors getting in a fight that turns violent. It is not something you can unsee. Listening to news on the radio has a similar effect to reading the news.
You may be hearing the tone of voice of the newscaster, but you are still left to visualize what they are saying. Television news sources show videos and images that can be very hard to forget, depending on how detailed and graphic they are.
An Ongoing Pandemic Leads to Ongoing Issues
The coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing crisis with new cases and deaths, unemployment, political turmoil, and a declining economy. People are constantly being exposed to new information. Just when you think things are calming down, more bad news comes to you. It also does not help when a number of outlets post their predictions of what the future will hold without any scientific or medical evidence.
Combining constant exposure to 24/7 news can wear you out. Remember that everyone is feeling the same as you. The uncertainty and lack of control can set us on edge. We feel like we have that control when we tune into the news to know what is happening, but might not realize our anxiety symptoms are actually growing worse. It is important to take everything one day at a time instead of trusting news sources that believe they know how the future will look.
The Amount of News to Read
It is best to choose one to two news resources that are reliable and real. Look for a news source that was written to give readers facts, as opposed to for the purpose of providing a shock factor. Then it is time to set boundaries to ensure you are not reading or watching the news too much.
Try to check in a couple of times a day only. Once you have the information you are seeking, do not go back to it. You should also try to skip any news outlets that provide gruesome images that will keep you awake at night.
In an effort to get more people to read the news, media outlets tend to cover only the negative outcomes of the situation, instead of talking about the people in recovery and those released from the hospital. You can include news sources like The Good News Network as your source, since it will only focus on the positives occurring around the world.
Remember that you are doing your part through this pandemic by covering your face when you go to grocery stores, staying at home, and washing your hands frequently. Even if you do catch the virus, the chances are that you will make a full recovery. By limiting the amount of news you read on a daily basis, you are taking control of an uncertain situation and your anxiety.
Reducing your exposure to negative or upsetting news can be one way to improve your mental health. Silver Lining Recovery offers customized therapy options for mental health and substance abuse issues. Our philosophy is that the most effective way to treat addiction is to find the underlying cause of it and offer professional help. We work with each of our clients to uncover unresolved issues through treatments such as EMDR, CBT, DBT, meditation treatment, and faith-based treatment. For more information, please call us today at (866) 729-8577.